Where the iguana chased by snakes in Planet Earth 2 scene happened: Here's what the island is really like

It's the stuff nightmares are made of. In a scene from the new BBC wildlife series Planet Earth 2, a young iguana is pursued by a group of serpents on a beach.

As the iguana makes a break for it, more and more snakes slither forward from the rocks, seemingly coming out of nowhere.

Things look bleak when one of the snakes finally catches the iguana, coiling itself around the lizard. But after continuing to struggle, the iguana breaks free and scrambles up rocks – with more snakes in pursuit – to finally climb out of their reach.

The scene immediately went viral on social media, with viewers in Britain and professional critics alike gobsmacked by the scene.

"Rarely has any real-life footage made the heart thump so hard in my chest as during this sublimely edited five-minute sequence (which may prompt many an anxiety dream in years to come)," declared the London Telegraph's critic Gerard O'Donovan.

Here's the full version of the scene from the BBC: 

When I saw the footage for the first time on social media, something seemed familiar about it. I soon realised that was because it was filmed on the island of Fernandina, one of the Galapagos Islands where I'd visited this year.

And I'd had my own run in with the resident racer snakes.

Advertisement

The Galapagos Islands are renowned for their unique and abundant wildlife, but you never realise quite how abundant it is until you visit it for yourself.

As you approach on a dinghy from your cruise ship, your guide will typically say, "In this area we might (might) see such and such an animal." What the guide really means is "we will encounter this animal immediately as soon as we get ashore".

Fernandina Island is essentially a huge volcano sticking up out of the ocean, the westernmost of the islands – beyond lies the open expanse of the Pacific. It's the third largest and youngest of the Galapagos Islands. It's also active – the volcano erupted in 2009.

The landscape, virtually untouched by humans, is covered in black, volcanic rock, left over from past lava flows from earlier eruptions.

The colour makes it the perfect place for certain animals that live here to blend in with their environment.

I'm travelling with a couple from Canada, Bob and Colleen. Colleen has a fear of snakes.

We're not talking your run of the mill "snakes make me feel icky" fear of the reptiles here. We're talking full blown phobia. And if you've watched that Planet Earth 2 clip, you'll know this is not a good place for someone with a fear of snakes.

We're only into the second day of our week-long cruise around the Galapagos and we've already encountered penguins, flightless cormorants, turtles, iguanas, sea lions and more. So as we head towards Fernandina, we're expecting more of the same.

Our guide says we "might" see the Galapagos snake here on Fernandina. Sure enough, in typical Galapagos fashion, the first animal we see is a dark, extremely long snake slithering across the rocks only a few metres from where we land.

Then we see another one. And then another.

It's not quite the nightmare-fuel of the Planet Earth 2 clip (for one thing, these snakes are constrictors, which means they're not dangerous to humans or anything larger than a young iguana), but it's still creepy as hell.

And it's more than enough for Colleen. She's out. She hops back onto the boat and goes back to our cruise ship, the Ocean Spray.

We head along the coast on foot, passing large groups of iguanas huddled together, basking in the sun. A sea lion plays in the shallows nearby. We shortly rejoin Colleen on the dinghy after our guide spots another hunter at Fernandina - an orca cruising the coast. That leads to an experience worthy of its own scene in Planet Earth 2.

After our initial encounter, we don't see any more snakes. But as the viral clip shows – it doesn't mean they're not out there.

Trip notes

GETTING THERE

LATAM flies from Sydney to Santiago, Chile with connections to the Galapagos via Quito, Ecuador. See latam.com/en_au 

CRUISING THERE

South America Travel Centre arranges high-end cruise trips in the Galapagos Islands. A four-day cruise on board the Ocean Spray luxury catamaran starts from $US3090. See southamericatravelcentre.com.au 

Craig Platt travelled as a guest of LATAM and the South America Travel Centre

See also: 20 animals you need to see while you still can

See also: Incredible orca attack in Galapagos Islands caught on camera

Listen to Craig Platt discussing the iguana chase and visiting the Galapagos Islands on 2UE's Talking Travel below. 

Comments